Frequently Asked Questions

Inverters

I hear a high-pitched whine when using my television or VCR in my car with your inverter. What's causing this?

Inverters work by switching the voltage from the car off and on at a very fast frequency. This can produce an electrical "noise" which can be picked up and amplified by some audio devices including a TV or VCR. Unfortunately, this is a function of the audio devices design and can not be corrected.

 

This type of "noise" can also be generated by the car's ignition system. Car stereos are designed to filter out this noise but since televisions and VCR's are intended for home use, they do not have the same filtering built in.

 

You can determine whether the "noise" is coming from the inverter or the ignition by turning off the car while operating the inverter. If the noise goes away when the car's engine is off, then the noise is coming from the car's ignition and a filter can be purchased at most auto parts stores that will correct the problem.

Why won’t the TV I have turn on when connected to my inverter?

Some TV manufacturers design their TV’s to require an unusually large surge of power to start up. In some cases, this surge can far exceed even the peak rating of the inverter. The inverter has a built-in safety circuit designed to protect the inverter and your vehicle from high power overloads that could blow fuses and cause damage to wiring. If the light on the inverter is turning red when attempting to power your television it is because that television’s power surge requirement is exceeding the peak rating of the inverter.

 

This generally occurs on lesser-expensive off-brand televisions which are designed with minimal components to be sold at low retail prices.

 

When I connect my laptop or notebook computer to the inverter, the inverter light changes back and forth from green to red and my laptop’s screen alternates between bright and dim.

A few newer laptop computers have charge circuits which pulse the laptop’s internal battery to charge it. These pulses draw far more power from the inverter than it’s peak rating allows. The inverter has a built-in safety circuit designed to protect the inverter and your vehicle from high power overloads that could blow fuses and cause damage to wiring. If the lights on your inverter are alternating green and red it is because the laptop has a battery charging circuit demanding power in pulses that exceeds the peak rating of the inverter.

 

If the laptops screen alternates between bright and dim, it is because the inverter’s protection circuit is temporarily shutting off power. The laptop senses this and goes into power-saving mode which automatically dims the screen. When the inverter’s protection circuit senses that the overload has past, it then restores power. When the laptop senses the power coming back on, it automatically brightens the screen.

 

If your computer contains this pulsing-type battery charge circuit, you can still power the computer from the inverter by removing the battery from the computer. The computer can then be operated as normal, and the battery can be charged when a 120 volt wall outlet is available.

 

A red light comes on my inverter when I plug in the device I want to power and my device does not work. Why?

The red light indicates that the inverter has shutdown because of one of the following reasons:

 

Low battery voltage - the inverter will automatically shutdown to prevent the car's battery from discharging all the way. A low-voltage alert can also happen in car's where the wiring to the cigarette lighter socket is too thin. This will cause the voltage from the battery to drop too much by the time it reaches the inverter.

 

High battery voltage - the inverter will automatically shut down if the battery voltage is too high to protect its internal components.

 

Overloading the inverter - try powering a device that requires less power. If the inverter is being overloaded, you will need to purchase a higher-power inverter.

Why won't your inverter power my small electronic device or appliance?

Check the required input wattage for the electronic device or appliance. The continuous wattage rating of the inverter will need to be the same or greater than the rating of the product you are trying to power.

 

PowerLine inverters are designed to power 120 volt products only. Sometimes the input rating of a product is listed as volts and amps instead of watts. To convert a rating like this to watts, simply multiply the volts times the amps. For example:

 

Input Voltage: 120 VAC 

Input Current: 0.8 Amps (or 800 milliamps) 

Multipy 120 X 0.8 = 96 Watts

 

In this case you would need to use an inverter rated at 96 watts continuous or greater. Many electronic devices and appliances need more power to start up than they need to run continuously. Sometimes this can cause the inverter to shut down when the device is initially turned on. If this is happening, try plugging the device into the inverter first, and then turn the inverter on (either via its switch or by plugging it into the cigarette lighter socket).

What inverter should I use with my laptop computer?

This depends on the rating of the computer's power supply and the way in which the laptop is used.

 

Usually, a 75 watt inverter is adequate. Even though many laptop power supplies are rated higher in wattage than 75 watts, few of them actually ever draw more power than 75 watts.

 

Newer laptops however, are being designed as desktop replacements, and as such, require more and more power. Consider using a 140 watt or 200 watt inverter for these newer larger laptops.

How much current does my PowerLine inverter draw from my cigarette lighter socket if it isn't being used to power anything?

All PowerLine inverters use less than 100 milliamps of current if they are not being used to power a device. While this amount of current draw will not significantly drain a car battery, we recommend that our PowerLine inverters be unplugged when not in use.

I am using a combination TV and VCR with your inverter. The TV works OK but the VCR runs very slow. What can I do?

Most inverters put out a voltage which has a "modified" sine-wave instead of a "true" sine-wave like would come out of a wall outlet. Because of this, some devices which contain motors, particularily television/VCR combos, will not function properly. The only way around this is to purchase a much more expensive "true sine-wave" inverter.

I measured the output of my inverter and it is much lower than 120 volts. Is there something wrong with it?

First, the voltage produced by the inverter is potentially dangerous and we do not recommend or encourage consumers to put voltage meter probes in the outlet. Our inverters, as well as all other low-cost inverters, put out a "modified" sine-wave output voltage, not a "true" sine-wave like the one coming from a wall outlet. Because of this, the voltage on the inverters can only be measured with a "true RMS" volt meter. This type of meter is not something that a typical consumer would have access to.

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